Aurora Health Care is one of the most experienced organizations in the nation in developing therapies for patients with life-threatening cancers. At Aurora, vital laboratory-based research is conducted in three primary areas:
- Immunology research is focused on identifying the factors that turn the immune system on and off.
- Cancer immunotherapy research helps create procedures to retrain the immune system to recognize and destroy tumors.
- Endocrine research uses a technique developed by Aurora scientist and Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) Professor Hershel Raff, PhD, to determine the level of a stress hormone called cortisol saliva.
The immunology research lab studies the human immune system in the clinical setting of transplantation and cancer. Since 1995, the lab’s primary focus has been deciphering the role of the CTLA-4 molecule in immune regulation. Over the past two years, Martin Oaks, PhD, has begun investigations into the effect of glycosylation of antibodies (particularly IgG) on immunoregulatory functions. These studies take advantage of Aurora’s diverse and unique solid organ transplant and immunotherapy programs.
The immunotherapy research lab studies tumor infiltrating lymphocytes that will focus on biomarker discovery to improve the treatment of patients with cancer. With recent data demonstrating that immune cell infiltration in and around tumors seems to correlate with survival, biomarkers will also be evaluated for immune cell function by testing cellular phenotypes and functions.
The endocrine research lab studies the short- and long-term effects of neonatal hypoxia. The primary focus is the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, although he also studies the insulin control of blood glucose, heart rate and the control of body temperature. The area’s current focus is using intermittent hypoxia as a model of neonatal apnea. The second focus has been in collaboration with Eric Cohen, MD, at the Medical College of Wisconsin studying the short- and long-term effects of total-body irradiation in the rat.